Why Fastest U.S. College Mile Runner Won't Be Vying To Be NCAA Champ | KUOW News and Information

Why Fastest U.S. College Mile Runner Won't Be Vying To Be NCAA Champ

Mar 11, 2016
Originally published on March 13, 2016 9:09 am

Last week, Izaic Yorks, a senior at the University of Washington, ran a mile in 3:53 — the fastest college mile ever by an American. The effort qualifies him for the Olympic trials this summer.

So why isn't Yorks running in the mile at this weekend's NCAA championships in Birmingham, Ala.?

Turns out, he had to make a decision: run that mile alone, or run with his team in the distance medley relay or DMR.

If he decided to run the mile race, he would have been required to run a preliminary round right before the DMR — compromising his team's shot at a national title.

Yorks recalls when his coach, Greg Metcalf, pulls him aside to ask what he thinks about running the mile race.

"I was just, no way. I want to do the DMR," Yorks replied. "That's what I told these guys I would do. And I'm gonna stick to that word."

Metcalf continues.

"I'm sitting in my office on Sunday, making our declarations," Metcalf says. "And I hit the 'scratch' button next to Izaic's name, next to 3:53, I think, 'Am I the biggest idiot of all time?'"

Maybe. But in a sport that so often celebrates individual glory, Yorks is not only very fast, he's also very loyal.

Update @ 12:08 p.m., March 13: The UW Men finished second in the DMR on Friday, less than a second behind Oregon.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Now we're going to tell you the story of two races. One's a historic race a week ago. Izaik Yorks of the University of Washington set a new mark for the fastest college mile by an American.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

And the other is a race he is not going to run, the mile at this weekend's NCAA championship.

SHAPIRO: Let's start just over a week ago at the regional track meet at the University of Washington. Alex Lore (ph) and Cody Barton of the website FloTrack have the call.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: So we're dialed in here, and it looks hot up front if you ask me.

MCEVERS: More than a dozen runners have set off in a blazing pace in the mile. The pack is led by one of Yorks' teammates who hopes to set Yorks up for a fast finish.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: But keep an eye on the prize here. Again, you need to run about 3:50 - oh, man. It's so close.

SHAPIRO: As they head into the final lap, the pace is too much for most of the runners. Izaik Yorks and Stanford's lanky Sean McGorty pull away.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Oh, man, oh, man. They're getting fired up here. We got less than 400-meters to go. Yorks and McGorty - 3:10. Let's see what we got, boys.

MCEVERS: McGorty tries to pass, Yorks stays just ahead.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Three-forty-three into the home stretch. They got to go, got to go, guys, got to go. McGorty, Yorks elbow to elbow - they're on their toes. They're all out. We're at 3:52 right now. They're going to NCAA.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Oh, no way. Uh-oh, no way - 3:53.

SHAPIRO: Three minutes, 53 seconds - Yorks has won, fastest college mile ever by an American, and it qualifies him for the Olympic trials this summer.

MCEVERS: All right. So now here's the head-scratcher. Why is Yorks not running in the mile at this weekend's NCAA championships in Birmingham, Ala.? Well, he had to make a decision- run that mile alone or run with his team in the Distance Medley Relay or DMR.

SHAPIRO: Yorks and his coach, Greg Metcalfe, recall having to make that tough decision.

GREG METCALFE: You know, there comes a point when, you know, Izaik runs 3:53, and then we're having a conversation with our staff and with Izaik about what is the best thing to do.

IZAIK YORKS: Metcalfe pulls me aside, and he goes, well, what do you think about doing the mile? And I was just - no way. I want to do the DMR. That's what I told these guys what I would do, and I'm going to stick to that word.

METCALFE: And it's just, you know, I'm sitting in my office on Sunday making our declarations, and here I hit the scratch button next to Izaik's name, next to 3:53. I think, am I the biggest idiot of all time?

MCEVERS: Maybe, but in a sport that so often celebrates individual glory, Izaik Yorks is not only very, very fast. He's very loyal. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.